Adrian Mooy & Co
How can we help you?
If you are starting your own business, running it as a sole trader is the quickest and easiest way to do it. However, you will have unlimited liability which means you are personally responsible for business debts.
Another important aspect is that you are taxed on all the profits with little opportunity for tax planning. This is why most businesses will incorporate as profits increase.
We can assist in all aspects of self-employment, from choosing the best time to start the business, the best time for your year-end, support you through the initial business registration and provide advice on all aspects of tax.
We provide a range of compliance services for sole traders:
Partnerships are similar to sole trades, except that they are used when more than one person owns the business.
Each profit share is determined by the partners and best practice is to record this in a partnership agreement.
With partnerships each partner has joint and several liability for the debts of the partnership, so that if one partner cannot pay their share of any business debts, the debt will fall on the other partners.
Setting up a partnership agreement from the outset is essential.
Our compliance services include:
We are a member firm of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants and our rigorous internal procedures mean that clients can be confident that their accounts have been prepared in line with the Association’s standards of and the Companies Act 2006.
Corporate tax planning can result in significant improvements in your bottom line. Our services will help to minimise your corporate tax exposure.
Self assessment tax returns are becoming increasingly complex and failing to submit your return on time, or correctly, can result in substantial penalties.
We use our expertise and the latest tax software to ensure that tax returns are completed efficiently, accurately and on-time.
We provide a comprehensive personal tax compliance service for individuals that includes:
Invoicing your contracting work through a limited company is highly tax efficient.
We are IR35 experts and will advise you on how to structure your next contract to minimise IR35 risk. We will ensure you claim all the tax deductible expenses that you are entitled to and work out if you can save money by joining the VAT Flat Rate Scheme. We will complete your accounts and tax returns ahead of deadlines and provide you with clarity over your future tax payments.
Free company incorporation and set up with HMRC if you are a new Contractor and sign up with us.
Included in this service:
VAT • Value added tax is one of the most complex and onerous tax regimes imposed on business. We provide an efficient cost effective VAT service which includes assistance with VAT registration and help with completing your VAT return.
Payroll • Administering your payroll can be time consuming and the task is made all the more difficult by the growing complexity of taxation and employment legislation. We provide a comprehensive payroll service.
Construction Industry Scheme • CIS returns & payments
Book-keeping • Maintenance of accounting records
Management Accounting • Provision of management accounts
If you wish to know more about these services please contact us on 01332 202660.
If your business does not require a statutory audit then our Assurance Service will provide reassurance that your accounts stand up to close scrutiny from your bank or other finance providers.
Work is tailored to your specific requirements and the level of confidence that you are looking to achieve and will provide credibility to your accounts by the issuing of an assurance review report.
Adrian Mooy & Co is a registered auditor with the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants.
We strive to provide an auditing service that adds more value than merely the statutory compliance requirement of an audit.
We tailor the audit to meet your circumstances and needs. Using the latest techniques and software we deliver a cost-effective audit that provides real value.
Before starting out you may need help with business planning, cash flow and profit & loss forecasts.
You may also want help identifying the best structure for your business. From sole trades and partnerships to limited companies and limited liability partnerships, we have the experience to advise on the best solution for you both operationally and from a tax point of view.
We also advise on accounting software selection, profit improvement, profit extraction & tax saving.
If you wish to know more about our Business Start-up service please contact us on 01332 202660.
We can work with you to:
Accountancy and taxation of property is a specialist area. We have the expertise and experience to work effectively with private landlords and property investors. We deal with self-assessment tax returns, accounts preparation and tax advice for all aspects of property portfolios.
Whether you are a first time buy to let landlord or a long established developer we will discuss and understand your situation in order to advise and recommend the most appropriate medium through which to carry out your property investments. We will guide you through the accounting and tax issues and help you to plan effectively to minimise your tax liabilities.
Services we offer include:
We take the time to explain your accounts to you so that you understand what is going on in your business.
Up to date, relevant and quickly produced management information for better control.
As part of our accounts service we prepare your annual accounts and complete yearly personal and business tax returns.
As your year-end approaches we will agree a timetable with you for completion of the accounts that minimises disruption to your business and leaves no late surprises when it comes to your tax liabilities.
We can also prepare management accounts to help you run your business and make effective business decisions. Management accounts are also very useful when approaching lending institutions when no year end accounts are available. We offer:
For a meeting to discuss your requirements please call us on 01332 202660.
We understand the issues facing owner-managed businesses.
We provide advice on personal tax & planning opportunities.
Running a small business places many demands on your time. We can help lift the load with our complete payroll service.
Designed to ease your administrative burden, our service removes what is often a time consuming task, leaving you free to concentrate on managing your business.
We can also prepare your benefits and expenses forms and advise you of any filing requirements and national insurance due. Benefits and expenses can be a complicated area and knowing what to report can be tricky.
We can file all your in-year and year end returns with HMRC and provide you with P60s to distribute to your employees at the year end.
We also offer a solution to meet your auto-enrolment obligations.
Businesses dealing with the requirements of VAT legislation will agree that this is often a complex area.
Our compliance services offer support for all stages of completing your VAT returns, whether you need advice on the treatment of specific transactions or have produced your records and would like verification that they are correct.
We can also advise on the pros and cons of voluntary registration, extracting maximum benefit from the rules on de-registration and the Flat rate VAT scheme.
Our consultancy service guides you through the intricacies of the legislation, pinpointing areas where you may be able to relieve or partly relieve the cost of VAT for your business, for example when purchasing new equipment or undertaking new projects such as property development.
For a free meeting to discuss VAT and obtain further advice please call us on 01332 202660.
We can conduct a full tax review of your business and determine the most efficient tax structure for you.
We give personal tax advice to a wide variety of individuals, including higher rate tax payers, company directors & sole traders.
We can assist with:
For a meeting to discuss your requirements please call us on 01332 202660.
Understand your needs
Firstly we listen and gain an understanding of your business and what you are aiming to achieve.
We seek your opinions on the service we provide and respond to feedback in order to upgrade and improve what we do.
Build a relationship
Success in business is based around relationships and trust. Our objective is to develop and build strong relationships with our clients, based on two way trust and respect.
Confirm your expectations
Our aim is to help you maximise your business potential and we tailor our service to meet your requirements and agree a timetable for delivering them.
Communication is important to the success of any commercial venture. It is therefore a vital part of our work with you, sharing the knowledge and ideas that help you to realise your ambitions.
Understand your needs
Confirm your expectations
Build a relationship
Straightforward and easy to deal with Adrian Mooy & Co provide an efficient, friendly and professional service - payroll, tax returns, annual accounts and VAT returns are always done on time. Eddie Morris
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Should Landlords Incorporate? - Part 1
Issues to bear in mind for buy-to-let landlords thinking about incorporating of their property business.
A BTL investor should only incorporate his or her business if there is good reason to do so. Before the new rules restricting tax relief for finance costs on residential property, many landlords would not have been better off by incorporating. Since April 2016 a new, more punitive regime for taxing dividend income means that incorporation is even less beneficial.
Example: Sole proprietor vs company - Joe owns several properties, but has no other sources of income. His net property profits are £40,000. In 2016/17, his personal tax position will be:
If he had instead put his properties into a company, the company would first have to pay corporation tax on its profits:
Should Landlords Incorporate? - Part 2
But this is only half the story; although it is Joe's company, he has so far drawn out only £8,000 salary and the rest of the company’s profits are locked up in the company’s bank account - those funds are not yet his. He therefore pays a dividend out of the company to put the funds at his personal disposal.
The real problem is that, by 2020/21, Joe will be getting only 20% tax relief on his mortgage lnterest if he continues to hold the property personally, while the corporate alternative would not be caught. Suppose that Joe's net rental income of £40,000 is after having paid £32,000 in mortgage interest, and move forwards to 2020/21, where all of his mortgage interest will be subject to the new tax relief restriction:
Should Landlords Incorporate? - Part 3
Joe stands to lose £4,100 by 2020/21 if he continues to run his business personally, even though personal tax-free bands and allowances have risen significantly by then (the government has committed to increase the personal allowance to £12,500 and the higher rate threshold to £50,000).
We already have a rough idea of how Joe would fare with a corporate property portfolio, because companies will not be affected by the new BTL finance restrictions. On the basis that companies remain static, then Joe would still be £1,920 worse off in a company in 2020/21 than with a personal portfolio now in 2016/17, but that would nevertheless be £2,180 better than sticking with personal ownership all the way through to 2020/21.
Companies will be more tax-efficient by 2020/21 because the main rate of corporation tax is set to fall to 17%, increasing Joe's saving to more than £3,100.
Many career landlords are dealing with much larger numbers, and the savings will be much more substantial. The key consideration is how much the artificial tax cost of disallowing interest, etc., exceeds the compensating 20% tax relief. If we look instead at an alternative where Joe's mortgage interest is only £12,000, the results are quite different:
In this scenario, the new mortgage interest regime will end up costing Joe only a very small amount annually, even when fully implemented in 2020/21. He would be much better off sticking with direct ownership, rather than incorporating his business.
Other things to consider are the possible effects on student loans, child benefit and the forfeiture of personal allowance for those with larger portfolios.
Correcting VAT errors
Making a mistake in your VAT return is easily done. Maybe you missed something out accidentally or added up some figures wrongly. However, should this happen and you discover that you have made a mistake in a return which you have already filed, don’t panic – it is easy to put things right. Providing the errors meet certain conditions, you do not need to tell HMRC about them – you can simply correct them by adjusting your next VAT return.
You can adjust your current VAT return to correct errors on past returns as long as the errors:
The reporting threshold, which applies to net errors, is £10,000. Net errors that are not more than £10,000 (and which satisfy the other adjustment conditions) can be corrected by adjusting the next VAT return. Errors of more than £10,000 (up to a maximum of £50,000) can also be adjusted via the next VAT return if the error is not more than 1% of the box 6 figure (total value of sales and all other outputs excluding any VAT).
Errors that exceed the reporting threshold must be reported to HMRC. They cannot be corrected by adjusting the next return.
Making the adjustment
Making the adjustment is simple – you just need to:
You must also keep details of the nature of the error and the date that it occurred. Your own VAT must also be corrected.
Richard is a landscape gardener. He is VAT registered and submits returns quarterly. In December 2017, he discovers when preparing his year-end accounts that he has recorded a purchase invoice for £2,400 plus VAT twice, once in January 2017 and once in February 2017. As a result, he has over-claimed VAT of £480 in the quarter to 28 February 2017. At the time that the error is discovered, his next VAT is the quarter to 28 February 2018. As the error was not deliberate, within the last four years and within the reporting threshold, he can correct it in that return. Before adjusting for the error, the box 1 figure for the period (VAT due for the period on sales and other outputs) was £5,360. He needs to increase the box 1 figure by £480 to pay back the amount reclaimed in the earlier return in error. His adjusted box 1 figure is therefore £5,840 (£5,360 + £480).
Not all errors can be corrected by adjusting the VAT return. Errors which are above the reporting threshold, made more than four years ago or which are deliberate need to be notified to HMRC. This can be done by notifying HMRC’s VAT error correction team (see www.gov.uk/government/organisations/hm-revenue-customs/contact/vat-correct-errors-on-your-vat-return for contact details), either on form VAT652 (see www.gov.uk/government/publications/vat-notification-of-errors-in-vat-returns-vat-652) or by letter.
Where the error arose as a result of careless or dishonest behaviour, interest or penalties may be charged.
Paying dividends – are they properly declared
For many personal and family companies, the most tax-efficient way to extract profits is to pay a small salary and to take anything in excess of this as a dividend. However, in order to benefit from the more favourable tax rates and lack of National Insurance attached to dividends, the dividend must be properly declared.
What does this mean?
Sufficient retained profits
The first point to note is that dividends are paid from retained profits. These are profits after tax which have not already been distributed. Dividends come out of retained profits and the retained profits must be sufficient to cover the full amount of the dividend.
If a dividend is paid when the company lacks sufficient retained profits to pay that dividend, it is an unlawful distribution and must be repaid.
Paid in proportion to shareholdings
Dividends must be paid in relation to shareholdings. So, if there are one hundred shares and a dividend of £5 per share is paid, a shareholder with 20 shares must receive £100 (20 x £5), a shareholder with 40 shares must receive £200 (40 x £5), and so on. It is not possible to tailor the payment to the shareholders so they receive a different amount per share. If it is desirable to pay dividends at different rates to different shareholders, an alphabet share structure should be employed.
The directors can declare an interim dividend. They must, however, consider the financial health of the company and ensure that the company has sufficient retained profits from which to pay the dividend. The decision to pay a dividend should be minuted.
A final dividend is recommended by the directors but must be approved by the shareholders in general meeting or by written resolution. They are normally paid at the end of the year. The resolution should be signed by the shareholders.
A dividend voucher should be given to shareholders each time a dividend is paid. This is effectively a receipt. The dividend voucher should show the name and registered address of the company, the name and address of the shareholder, the description of the shares, such as ordinary shares, the number of shares owned at the time the dividend was declared, the amount of the dividend paid, and the date. The voucher should be signed.
Getting it wrong
The cost of getting it wrong can be high. Unless a dividend is properly declared, it is not a dividend and HMRC may seek to tax it as a salary payment instead – with the associated National Insurance and higher rates of tax. At best, it would be regarded as a loan to the director/shareholder, which would have to be repaid and may trigger a section 455 charge and a benefit in kind charge on the loan.
Tax-free rental income of £8,500
By making the most of the rent-a-room relief and the £1,000 property income allowances, it is possible to receive tax-free rental income in 2018/19 of £8,500 (while utilising your personal allowance elsewhere).
Rent-a-room relief is available where you let a room to a lodger or lodgers in your own home. The home does not have to be owned – the relief is also available where you rent a property.
Under the scheme, rental income is tax-free up to £7,500. Where two or more people are entitled to the rental income, the rent-a-room limit is halved, so each person can receive up to £3,750 tax-free.
Where the rental income from letting rooms to lodgers in your house exceeds £7,500 you have a choice. You can either deduct £7,500 from the total rental income and pay tax on the balance or you can work out the actual profit in the usual way. If you make a loss, it is better not to claim rent-a-room relief as you will lose the benefit of the loss.
From 6 April 2017, a new property allowance is available for all types of rental income. Where the rental income is less than £1,000, it does not need to be declared to HMRC. Where it is more than £1,000, as with rent-a-room you have the choice of paying tax on the extra above £1,000 or working out the rental profit in the same way.
No double relief
It is not possible to claim both rent-a-room relief and the property allowance if you let a room to a lodger in your own home, so you must choose. As the rent-a-room threshold is higher, this is the one to pick.
Other sources of rental income
But, if you have another source of rental income as well, for example, a property you let out or if you rent out your drive, you can claim the property allowance in addition to rent-a-room relief.
Paula works as an administrative assistant and earns £20,000 in 2017/18. To make some extra money, she lets out a spare room in her house to a lodger and receives rental income of £8,000 in 2017/18. As she lives near a popular sporting venue, she also lets out her drive when there are major sporting events on. In 2017/18, she receives income of £1,250 from that source.
She claims rent-a-room relief in relation to the income from her lodger, receiving £7,500 tax-free and paying tax on the remaining £500. She also claims the property allowance to set against the rental income from letting out her driveway, receiving £1,000 tax-free and paying tax on the balance of £250. Her personal allowance is set against her salary.
By using both allowances, she is able to enjoy a tax-free rental income of £8,500 tax-free.
Cash basis for landlords
Since 6 April 2017, the cash basis has been the default basis for qualifying landlords running an unincorporated property business.
Cash basis v accruals basis - The cash basis is easier for a non-accountant to understand, as it simply takes account of money in and money out. Income is recognised when it is received, and expenditure is taken into account when it is paid.
By contrast, Generally Accepted Accounting Practice (GAAP) requires accounts to be prepared under the accruals basis. This matches income and expenditure to the accounting period to which it relates, recognising income when invoiced and expenditure when billed, and necessitating the need to take account of debtors, creditors, prepayments, and accruals.
Qualifying for the cash basis - The cash basis is only eligible to landlords operating an unincorporated property business who are able to answer `no’ to all the following questions:
If the landlord is able to answer `yes’ to any of the above, the accounts must continue to be prepared under the accruals basis.
Default basis –- election needed - Unlike traders, landlords do not need to elect to use the cash basis. If the answer to all five of the above questions is `no’, the cash basis applies by default. By contrast, an unincorporated landlord who is within the cash basis must elect if they wish to prepare accounts under the accruals basis.
Multiple businesses - The cash basis tests are applied separately to each unincorporated property business. There is no requirement that the same basis must be used for all businesses.
Moving to the cash basis - When entering the cash basis, opening debtors are not counted as income when the money is received, and opening creditors are not treated as expenditure when paid. Likewise, if the landlord moves back to the accruals basis, some adjustments are needed to prevent double counting as a result of the timing differences between the bases.
Capital expenditure - The rules for deducting capital expenditure under the cash basis have also been simplified, and in most cases, the landlord can simply deduct the amount of capital expenditure from income when working out profits. Certain assets do not qualify for this treatment – the list includes land, cars, non-depreciating assets, and capital expenditure on education and training.
The usual rules for the replacement of domestic appliances apply equally under the cash basis.
Mileage allowances - Landlords using a car or other vehicle in their property business can claim a fixed deduction based on mileage, as long as capital allowances have not been claimed for the vehicle or, for a vehicle other than a car, the cost has been deducted under the new capital expenditure rules. The usual rate of 45p per mile for cars and vans for the first 10,000 business miles and 25p per mile thereafter, and 24p per mile for motorcycles, is applicable.
Interest - The normal rules governing deduction of interest apply equally under the cash basis.
Buy-to-let landlords – relief for interest
With rising property costs and low interest rates, many people took out a mortgage to invest in a buy-to-let property. As long as property prices continued to rise and the tenants paid their rent, investors could make money from the rising market while the rent from the tenant paid off the mortgage – all the investor needed was the deposit and to convince the bank to lend them the money.
Fast forward a few years and the buy-to-let star is not burning quite so bright. Second and subsequent properties now attract a 3% stamp duty supplement – making them more expensive to buy – and relief for mortgage interest and other costs is being seriously reduced.
Interest relief – the new rules
Prior to 6 April 2016, the rules were simple. In calculating the profits of his or her property business, the landlord simply deducted the associated mortgage interest and finance costs.
New rules apply from 6 April 2017, with changes being phased in gradually over a four-year period so as to move from a system under which relief is given fully by deduction to one where relief is given as a basic rate tax reduction. This changes both the rate and mechanism of relief. The changes do not apply to property companies – only unincorporated businesses.
What does this mean
Relief by deduction simply means deducting the amount of the interest, as for other expenses, in working out the profit or loss of the property business.
Where relief is given as a basic rate tax reduction, instead of deducting the interest in calculating profit, 20% of the interest is deducted from the tax calculated by reference to the profit (as determined without taking out interest for which relief is given as a tax reduction).
For 2017/18, a landlord can deduct in full 75% of his or her finance cost. The remainder is given as a basic rate tax reduction.
Freddie has a number of buy to let properties. In 2017/18, his rental income is £21,000, he pays mortgage interest of £5,000 and has other expenses of £3,000. He is a higher rate taxpayer.
Tax on his rental income is calculated as follows:
Rental income £21,000
Less: interest (75% of £5,000) (£3,750)
other expenses (£3,000)
Taxable profit £14,250
Tax @ 40% £5,700
Less: basic rate tax reduction
(20% (£5,000 x 25%)) (£250)
Tax payable £5,450
This compares to a tax bill of £5,200, which would have been payable had relief for the interest been given in full by deduction.
The pendulum swings gradually from relief by deduction to relief as a basic rate tax reduction. In 2018/19, relief for half of the interest and finance costs is by deduction and relief for the other half is as a basic rate tax deduction. In 2019/20, only 25% of the interest and finance costs are deductible, relief for the remaining 75% being given as a basic rate tax reduction. From 2020/21 onwards, relief is only available as a basic rate tax reduction.
Use of home as office
Use of home as office is a catch-all phrase to describe the costs that a self-employed businessperson has in running at least part of their business operations from home. It need not be an office as people may use a spare bedroom to hold stock for assembly and postage, or similar.
Many will have used the figures that HMRC has long published for employees’ ’homeworking expenses’ - initially £2 a week, then £3 a week, changing to £4 a week from 2012/13.
From 2013/14 onwards HMRC has adopted the following rates:
Hours of business use per month 25-50 flat rate per month £10
Hours of business use per month 51-100 flat rate per month £18
Hours of business use per month 101+ flat rate per month £26
So in HMRC’s eyes, I am entitled to a deduction of £120 a year for the use of home office space (or similar), but basically only so long as I spend at least 25 hours a month working from home. Working more than 25 hours a week - broadly full time - from home gets me the princely sum of £312 per year.
Working from home may be cheap, but it’s not that cheap.
The following guidance assumes that the claimant is not using the cash basis of assessment for tax purposes, as the rules work differently.
'Wholly and exclusively’ - Business expenses are allowed if incurred 'wholly and exclusively for the purposes of the trade'. This is a cardinal rule; however, there is a further point:
'Where an expense is incurred for more than one purpose, this section does not prohibit a deduction for any identifiable part or identifiable proportion of the expense which is incurred wholly and exclusively for the purposes of the trade’ (ITTOIA 2005, s 34).
Applying these principles, I do not have to use a room in my house exclusively for my self-employment, just so long as when I am using it for business purposes, that is all it is being used for.
The costs you are allowed to claim - It is worth bearing in mind that HMRC does have guidance on how to make a more comprehensive claim for using one’s home in the business, in its Business Income manual however you may find it strange that almost all of the examples result in a claim of around £200 a year or less!
HMRC’s guidance nevertheless includes the following potentially allowable costs:
If you incur appreciable costs on the above then just £120 a year as a standard use of home deduction, or even £312 a year, is likely to make you feel more than a little aggrieved.
Mileage rates for landlords
In preparation for the introduction of digital recording and reporting, landlords with unincorporated property businesses have been able to benefit from a number of simplifications, including cash basis accounting. A further simplification was announced at the time of the Autumn 2017 Budget, which will allow landlords to use mileage rates to calculate a deduction for motoring expenses.
Who can benefit?
The option to use mileage rate is only open to individuals and partnerships comprised only of individuals running property businesses who use cars, goods vehicles, or motorcycles for business purposes. Corporate landlords and partnerships with corporate partnerships cannot claim deductions based on mileage rate.
The use of mileage rates is an alternative to claiming capital allowances and a deduction for actual costs.
The opportunity for landlords to use mileage rates is not new – until 2013, landlords were able to use mileage rates by concession. However, since that date, unincorporated property businesses have only been able to deduct actual motoring expenses and claim capital allowances for the cost of the vehicle.
The mileage rates for landlords will be the same as those for traders claiming a fixed rate deduction. 45p for the first 10,000 business miles, 25p thereafter.
In most cases, the option of using mileage rates will not be available in respect of a vehicle for which capital allowances have been claimed – it may therefore be a case of waiting until a new vehicle is acquired before switching over to using mileage rates rather than deducting actual costs.
However, transitional arrangements will apply where a qualifying landlord claimed capital allowances for a vehicle in the period 2013/14 to 2016/17 and wishes to start using mileage allowances from 2017/18 for the same vehicle. The transitional arrangements will enable mileage rates to be used, but will prevent further claims for capital allowances.
James is a landlord with an unincorporated property business. He uses a car for 11,670 business miles in 2017/18. Capital allowances have not been claimed in respect of the vehicle and he decides to use mileage rates rather than actual expenses to claim a deduction when working out his taxable profit.
The permitted deduction is £4,917.50 ((10,000 miles @ 45p) + (1,670 miles @ 25p)).
If capital allowances plus a deduction for actual expenses give a greater deduction, the landlord will need to assess whether the time saving from using mileage rates is worthwhile.
Taxation of Savings – what can you have tax-free?
There is no one answer to the amount of savings income and, for 2017/18, the answer can range from £0 to £18,650, depending on personal circumstance.
When looking at tax-free savings, there are a number of elements to take into account:
Savings income, such as bank and building society interest, is now paid gross without tax deducted.
Personal allowance - If a person has no other income (or only dividend income in addition to savings income), or their other income is less than £11,500, some or all of the personal allowance (set at £11,500 for 2017/18) will be available to shelter savings income.
Marriage allowance - Where the marriage allowance is claimed, this increases the potential tax-free income by £1,150 in 2017/18.
Savings allowance - In addition to the personal allowance, individuals who pay tax at the basic or higher rate are also entitled to a savings allowance. The amount of the allowance depends on the individual’s marginal rate of tax and is set at £1,000 a year for basic rate taxpayers and at £500 a year for higher rate taxpayers. There is no savings allowance for additional rate taxpayers.
Savings starting rate - Savers with little in the way of other taxable income can also benefit from a 0% savings starting rate on savings of up to £5,000, in addition to savings sheltered by the personal and savings allowance. However, the savings starting rate is quite complicated in that the starting rate limit is reduced by taxable non-savings income. So, if a person has taxable non-savings income of £2,000, the savings starting rate of 0% is available on savings income of £3,000, as the £5,000 limit is reduced by the taxable non-savings income of £2,000 to £3,000. Likewise, if a person has taxable non-savings income of more than £5,000, the savings starting rate limit is reduced to nil.
Case study 1: maximum tax-free savings - Elsie is retired and her only income is savings income, which in 2017/18 is £20,000. Her husband has income of £8,000 and Elsie benefits from the marriage allowance of £1,150. The first £11,500 of her savings income is covered by her personal allowance of £11,500 and the next £1,150 by the marriage allowance, leaving £7,350, of which £1,000 is covered by the personal savings allowance for basic rate taxpayers. This leaves savings income of £6,350. As she has no taxable non-savings income, she is entitled to the savings starting rate of 0% on savings equal to the saving starting rate limit of £5,000. Consequently, she is able to enjoy £18,650 (£11,500 + £1,150 + £1,000 + £5,000) of her savings tax-free and is taxed at the basic rate of 20% on her remaining savings of £1,350 – giving her a tax bill of £270.
Case study 2: reduced starting rate limit - In 2017/18, Arthur has a pension of £14,000 and savings income of £6,000. His personal allowance is set against his pension, leaving him with taxable non-savings income of £2,500. He is entitled to the saving personal allowance of £1,000, which is set against £1,000 of his savings income. As he has taxable non-savings income of less than £5,000, the savings starting rate is reduced by his taxable non-savings income of £2,500 to £2,500. £2,500 of his savings income is eligible for the 0% savings starting rate. He, therefore, receives savings income of £3,500 tax-free. The remaining £2,500 of his savings income is taxed at 20%, as is the excess of his pension over his personal allowance of £2,500. His tax bill for £2017/18 is, therefore, £1,000 (£5,000 @ 20%).
Case study 3: higher rate taxpayer - Wendy has a salary of £50,000 and savings income of £5,000 in 2017/18. Her personal allowance is set against her salary. She is entitled to the personal savings allowance of £500 available to higher rate taxpayers, but she is not eligible for the savings starting rate as her taxable non-savings income (£38,500, being £50,000 - £11,500) is more than £5,000. She receives tax-free savings income of £500.
As the case studies show, the amount of savings income a person may receive can vary considerably depending on what other income they have and the rate at which they pay tax.
Making the most of the trivial benefits exemption
A new tax exemption was introduced with effect from 6 April 2016 which enables employees to enjoy ‘trivial’ benefits tax-free. As is usually the case, availability of the exemption depends on certain conditions being met.
The conditions - for the exemption to apply, all of the following conditions must be satisfied.
Where the benefit is provided to a group of employees and it is impracticable to work out the exact cost per person, the £50 ceiling is taken as met if the average cost is not more than £50.
Close companies – annual cap
A limit is placed on the value of tax-free trivial benefits that can be enjoyed each year by the director or other office holder of a close company. Where the employer is a close company, an annual cap – known as the annual exempt amount – applies. This is set at £300 for each tax year. The cap applies to benefits provided to a director or office holder. Where a benefit is provided to a member of their family or household, this is treated as being provided to the director or office holder and counts towards their annual exempt amount.
It should be noted that the other conditions set out above apply equally to close companies; and thus, only benefits costing not more than £50 per head which are not cash or cash vouchers can be exempt, as long as they fall within the annual exempt amount.
Where a company is not close, there is no limit on the total value of trivial benefits that can be provided each year, as long as each individual benefit costs no more than £50 and the other qualifying conditions are met.
Using the exemption
The exemption can be used to provide employees with regular or one-off treats. For example, birthday and Christmas gifts (up to the £50 limit) can be provided tax-free.
Julie’s employer (which is not a close company) believes in treating staff well to keep them on side. Staff are provided with a fruit basket each Friday. The basket costs £25. Staff receive 50 fruit baskets each year. The total cost is £1,250. As the terms of the exemption are met, the benefit is tax-free.
As the company is not close, the annual cap of £300 does not apply.
Jenny is the director of her personal company, which is close. She is aware of the trivial benefit exemption and uses it to buy herself an item of clothing costing just under £50 every other month. Each item is within the £50 limit and the total annual amount is within the £300 annual exempt amount applying to close company directors. She can enjoy the benefits tax-free, while her company enjoys a corporation tax deduction for their cost.
Use the exemption
While the exemption only covers low-cost items, it can be used to provide employees with regular treats. The costs of providing the benefits is tax-deductible for the employer.
Working out your dividend tax bill
Dividends are a special case when it comes to tax and have their own rates and rules. The taxation of dividends was radically reformed from 6 April 2016 and the rules outlined below apply to a dividend paid on or after that date.
The first step to working out tax on dividend income is to determine the amount of that income. From 6 April 2016, this is simply the dividends actually received in the tax year. There is no longer any need to gross up as dividends no longer come with an associated tax credit.
The first £5,000 of dividend income is tax-free. All individuals, regardless of whether they are a non-taxpayer, a basic rate taxpayer, a higher rate taxpayer, or an additional rate taxpayer, are entitled to a dividend allowance of £5,000.
Although referred to as an allowance, the dividend allowance works as a nil rate band in that dividends falling within the allowance are taxed at a notional zero rate (so received tax-free). However, it counts as earnings and will use up part of the basic or higher rate band, as applicable.
The Government plans to reduce this allowance to £2,000 from 6 April 2018.
Rate of tax
Once the dividend allowance has been used up, the rate at which dividends are taxed depends on the tax band in which they fall. If the individual has some or all of his or her personal allowance available, this can be set against dividend income before any tax is payable. Where the taxpayer has other sources of income, dividends are treated as the top slice. It is important to remember this to ensure that dividends are taxed at the correct rate.
Dividends are taxed at the dividend rates of tax, rather than the standard income tax rates. For 2017/18, dividend tax rates are as follows:
The dividend ordinary rate applies to dividend income falling within the basic rate band, which for 2017/18 is the first £33,500 of taxable income. This applies to Scottish taxpayers too, rather than the Scottish basic rate band.
The dividend higher rate applies where taxable dividend income sits in the band between £45,001 and £150,000 and the dividend higher rate applies where dividend income falls in the additional rate band (taxable income above £150,000).
In 2017/18, Fiona receives dividend income of £55,000. She also receives a salary of £8,000 from her family company. The tax payable on her dividends is worked out as follows:
Thus, Fiona must pay tax of £7,987.50 on her dividend of £55,000 ((£5,000 @ 0%) + (£3,500 @ 0%) + (£28,500 @ 7.5%) + (£18,000 @ 32.5%)).
Private Residence Relief for Landlords - Part 1
With landlords facing capital gains tax (CGT) rates of 18% and/or 28% on the disposal of residential properties, this article considers the availability of private residence relief on disposals by landlords.
Private residence relief is available to shelter the gain on disposal of a person’s only or main residence. Ownership of a property alone is not sufficient to qualify for the relief; there must also have been occupation of the property as a residence.
If a let property does qualify for relief, this could add up to a valuable sum, as the following amounts potentially qualify:
Ensuring the property is the taxpayer’s residence - to qualify for relief, the property must be the person’s only or main residence, which carries with it an expectation of occupation with permanence.
Private Residence Relief for Landlords - Part 2
Example - Let property: How much relief?
Fred bought a house on 1 July 2002 for £12S,000. He occupied the property until 30 September 2005, when he decided to go travelling. He returned to the property on 1 l\/lay 2006 and occupied it until 31 March 2009, when he bought another house jointly with his girlfriend, which they occupied together. He decided to let out his house, and it was let until he disposed of it for £294,697 on 30 June 2016.
The periods qualifying for relief are as follows:
The property was owned for 14 years in total, with eight years and three months attracting private residence relief. The total gain was £169,697 and £100,000 of the gain (8.25/14 years x £169,697) qualifies for private residence relief.
The gain attributable to letting is for a period of five years and nine months and is £69,697 (5.75/14 years x £169,697). As this exceeds the maximum amount of relief of £40,000, the amount of relief for the letting period is restricted to £40,000.
This leaves Fred with a chargeable gain of £29,697.
Private Residence Relief for Landlords - Part 3
Which property is the only or main residence? Where a person has more than one residence (which is different to owning more than one residential property), determining which property is the main residence can either be decided on the facts, or an election can be made to nominate which is the main residence (TCGA 1992, s 222(5)).
Where an election is made, the property that is nominated does not have to factually be the 'main' residence, but it does have to be a dwelling house in use as the person’s residence (i.e. occupied on a permanent basis) for the election to be valid.
Time limits apply for making an election. An election can be made within two years of whenever there is a new combination of residences. This happens when a person starts occupying a dwelling as a residence, or ceases occupying a property as their residence (which may be different to when the property is acquired or disposed of).
An election can be varied at any time, and backdated for up to two years from the date that it was given. HMRC guidance states:
‘A variation will often be made when a disposal of a residence is in prospect or the disposal has already been made and the individual making the disposal wishes to secure the final period exemption.
For example, where an individual with two residences validly nominates house A, they may vary that nomination to house B at any time. The variation can then be varied back to house A within a short space of time. This will enable the individual to obtain the benefit of the final period exemption on house B with a loss of only a small proportion of relief of on house A.’
Ownership by husband and wife - for the purposes of private residence relief, a husband and wife may only have one residence. However, when it comes to letting relief, in the case of joint ownership by husband and wife each may have relief of up to £40,000.
SDLT and transfers of ownership on marriage and divorce
There are various situations in which land or property may be transferred between couples. This may happen near the start of a relationship when they set up home together or marry or enter into a civil partnership. It may also happen at the end of a relationship if the couple separate or divorce. The extent to which any SDLT is payable will depend on the circumstances and also whether any consideration changes hands.
SDLT is payable by reference to the consideration received. This may be in cash but can also include discharging a debt (so, for example, if a spouse takes on a share of the mortgage, this will count as consideration).
Example 1: Consideration below the SDLT threshold
Harry owns a house, which is valued at £200,000. Harry transfers a 50% share in the property to Sophie. She gives him cash of £100,000 in return.
The total consideration is £100,000. This is less than the SDLT threshold of £125,000. Consequently, no SDLT is payable on the transfer.
Example 2: SDLT payable but no cash changes hand
Following their marriage, Karen moves into her husband Ian’s house. The house is worth £600,000 and Ian has an outstanding mortgage of £400,000. Karen takes on a 50% share of the mortgage. She is not a first-time buyer and she does not own any other property.
Although no cash changes hands, the consideration for the transfer of ownership is equal to the share of the mortgage assumed by Karen. This is equal to £200,000 (50% of £400,000). As this is above the SDLT threshold of £125,000), SDLT is payable.
The SDLT payable is £1,500 ((£125,000 @ 0%) + (£75,000 @ 2%)).
Example 3: Gift
Edward moves into Elsie’s house following their marriage and she gives a 50% share of the property to her new husband. The house is worth £400,000 and Elsie owns it outright.
No cash changes hands and as it is a gift there is no consideration. Consequently, no SDLT is payable, even though the value of the transferred share is more than the SDLT threshold.
Example 3: Separation, divorce or dissolution
Chris and Alison separate and he moves out of the family home. Alison buys him out, paying him £250,000.
Where a transfer of ownership takes place on separation (where the circumstances are such that the separation is likely to prove permanent), or on divorce or the dissolution of a civil partnership, no SDLT is payable. Consequently, Alison does not have to pay SDLT on her acquisition of Chris’ share of their marital home, even though the consideration is more than the SDLT threshold.
Consider the circumstances and the consideration
Whether the transfer of ownership triggers an SDLT bill will depend on the circumstances and the amount of consideration, if any.
No Minimum Period of Occupation Needed for Main Residence
Main residence relief (private residence relief) protects homeowners from any gains arising on their only or main home. However, there are conditions to be met for the relief to be available. One of the major ones is that the property is at some time during the period of ownership occupied as the owner’s only or main home. Where this is the case, the period of occupation as a main home is sheltered from capital gains tax, as is the final 18 months of ownership, regardless of whether the property is occupied as a main home for that final period.
Living in a property for a period of time is worthwhile to secure main residence relief, not least because doing so has the added benefit of sheltering any gain that arises in the last 18 months of ownership.
But, how long does the property have to be occupied as a main residence to trigger the protective effects of the relief?
Quality not quantity
A recent decision by the First-tier tax tribunal confirmed that there is no minimum period of residence that is needed to secure main residence relief – what matters is that there has been a period of residence as the only or main home.
The case in question concerned a taxpayer who ran a property development company and who purchased a property in which he intended to live in as a main home. The property was initially purchased through the company, but the taxpayer intended to obtain a mortgage to buy it from the company. He lived in the property for a period of two and a half months whilst trying to sort out his finances. As a result of the financial crash, he was only able to secure a buy-to-let mortgage, the terms of which precluded him living in the property. The property was let to a friend, but the taxpayer moved in briefly following the friend’s death and undertook some decorating with a view to moving back in with his family. Due to health problems, this did not happen and the property was sold, realising a gain.
The Tribunal found that the taxpayer had lived in the property as a main home, albeit for a short period. It was the quality of occupation, not the quantity, that was important. Consequently, main residence relief was available.
Where a person owns a second home, living in it as a main residence, even if only for a short period, can be beneficial. This will protect not only the gain relating to the period of occupation from capital gains tax but also the last 18 months.
Partner note: TCGA 1992, s. 222; Stephen Bailey v HMRC TC06085.
Profit extraction: method 1 - taking a salary
Profit extraction: method 1 - taking a salary
There are various ways of taking money out of a company and each method has its own tax and National Insurance consequences, both for the company and the recipient. In this article, we will look at extracting money in the form of a salary.
Taking a small salary can be beneficial from a tax and National Insurance perspective - for both company and the recipient.
To the extent that the salary does not exceed the primary and secondary National Insurance threshold (set at £157 per week, £680 per month, and £8,164 per year for 2017/18), neither the company nor the recipient has to pay any National Insurance.
From the recipient’s perspective, to the extent that the salary is covered by their personal allowance (£11,500 for 2017/18), it is tax-free. Thereafter, it is taxed at the basic, higher or additional rates, as appropriate depending on the amount of the salary.
From the company’s perspective, both the salary and any employer’s National Insurance payable if the salary level is above the secondary threshold, are deductible in computing the profits for corporation tax purpose, generating a corporation tax saving of 19% (financial year 2017 rate).
Another benefit of paying a salary is that, unlike a dividend, it is not payable out of retained profits, and thus a salary can still be paid if the company is making a loss.
The optimal salary level will depend on circumstance. As a rule of thumb, where the personal allowance is not otherwise utilised, it is beneficial to pay a salary equal to the primary and secondary threshold for National Insurance purposes. For 2017/18, this equates to a salary of £680 per month. The salary will be free of tax and National Insurance in the hands of the recipient, the company will have no National Insurance to pay and the salary will be deductible for corporation tax purposes.
Paying a salary that is between the lower earnings limit for National Insurance purposes (£113 per week, £490 per month and £5,876 a year) and the primary threshold allows the recipient to earn a qualifying year for state pension and benefit purposes without actually having to pay any National Insurance. This is hugely beneficial if the recipient has no other means of earning a qualifying year and does not have the 35 years needed for the full single-tier state pension.
If the company is eligible for the employment allowance (set at £3,000 for 2017/18), and the recipient’s personal allowance is available in full, it can be beneficial paying a salary equal to the personal allowance, provided that there is sufficient employment allowance available to shelter an employer’s National Insurance liability that would otherwise arise. At a salary equal to the personal allowance, the employee would pay employee Class 1 contributions on the salary in excess of the primary threshold (£3,336 for 2017/18 (being £11,500 - £8,164)) – a National Insurance liability of £400.32 (£3,336 @ 12%). However, the additional salary (as for all salary payments) is deductible in computing the company’s profits for corporation tax purposes, so will generate a corporation tax saving of £633.84 (£3,336 @ 19%). The corporation tax saving outweighs the employee National Insurance cost by £233.52 – making it worthwhile to pay a salary equal to the personal allowance rather than the primary and secondary threshold. The same result is obtained if the employee/director is under 21 (or an apprentice under 25), regardless of whether the employment allowance is available, as no employer National Insurance is payable until the earnings exceed £866 per week (£3,750 per month, £45,000 per year).
Once the personal allowance has been used up, other profit extraction methods are generally more tax efficient, as the tax on the salary combined with the National Insurance cost (even if the employment allowance is available) will outweigh the corporation tax saving.
Private Use Of Employer Business Assets - Part 1
Private Use Of Employer Business Assets - Part 2
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